Interview with Terry Scott Taylor
www.1340mag.com March 2, 2002
by Tom Edmonson
CRITICALTOM: Would you agree with my observation that your more straightforward lyrics are put to pop and country music, while your more esoteric writing is put to alternative?
TERRY: I think you're right to some extent, but on both fronts there are a number of exceptions.
CRITICALTOM: It seems to me that the band Daniel Amos has been a sort of "Great Experiment." How does it feel now, many years later, looking back at what you guys have accomplished? Do feel that you have been exonerated? Has fan loyalty made it worth the trouble?
TERRY: Fan loyalty has been a real blessing to all of us, but if I were to count their numbers as an indication of "success" I would have to conclude that we have failed. At the risk of sounding like I'm grandstanding, let me say that I define "success" as something other than a pragmatic formula. Success to me is when God somehow uses us in impacting another life, often in ways that we can't measure.
CRITICALTOM: As far as I know you don't get asked much about politics. Yet it seems to me that you became very political with "Don't Ask Me How I Feel", "Big Guns", "Bush League", "Amber Waves Good-bye" and so on. Do you care to share a little more intimately with your fans about your political views?
TERRY: I have no real political affiliation that can easily be pinned down. A sweeping overview neglects the nuances and exceptions which a dogmatic approach often ignores. The result is oppression. The psalms have a lot to say about this. I try to go with my heart, tempered by the word of God, and I suppose if I were forced to define it, it would probably put me somewhere in the "moderate" category. I'm sure if I were to lay all my views out I'd offend everyone on some level. However vague it appears to be on the surface, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's," is how I best live out my personal political philosophy.
CRITICALTOM: Do you feel that God changed your vision? In other words, did you have a dream that didn't correspond with God's plan for you, so he had to let you face disappointment first before he could do greater things with you than you planned? (Does this make sense?)
TERRY: God is in the business of throwing us curve balls, because His aim is to form the image of Christ in us. He will do it by whatever means it takes. When I fear this process, it is because I don't really believe He loves me. After some 32 years of being a Christian, I'm only beginning to see just how much in He does. His hand can crush, yet He chooses to lay it gently upon us.
CRITICALTOM: It seems to me that some of your best work is that which has an element of spontaneity to it. From reading articles and interviews it amazes me how some of your best stuff started from vague ideas and were shaped by suggestions from others like Gene Eugene and Tim Chandler. "Motor Cycle" and "Zoom Daddy" come readily to mind. What do you think about this?
TERRY: Well, stories have been told, but essentially songwriting is a Mystery. My life and the people in it have all contributed in some way.
CRITICALTOM: What dreams do you have now as opposed to, say, 1976? What do you hope to accomplish now?
TERRY: To serve Christ with all that I have and am. In 1976 I may have answered the question the same way, but today I think I understand it a little better and have become more cognizant of the cost. "Complete surrender" is a mental concept that only the Spirit of the Lord can deliver to the heart as a "living" reality. We draw back because we fear it, and well we should. It is a destroying of our selves, a dying. It is done with a sword, the 'dark night of the soul' but with the wounding also comes the healing. To ask the Lord to do this takes a courage that we do not possess. We've got to ask Him for even this, or ask Him to help us ask. "Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief" is a prayer I've often prayed from the depths of my being.
CRITICALTOM: Do you care to explain to us about how Jerry Chamberlain originally left the band, then came back, then left again?
TERRY: Jerry was tired, as we all were. He left to get healthy and to try his own wings at creating music. He is an incredibly talented individual, but to us in the band, past present and future, no one is "official." Jerry will always be in Daniel Amos, even when he appears, for whatever reason, not to be.
CRITICALTOM: Would you tell a little about how you came to know Ed, Tim, and Greg?
TERRY: Uh..well...long stories here and I don't think I can be interesting enough about it. Tim likes interviews and I'm sure he'd love to make things up on a question like this. You might give him a call.
CRITICALTOM: By now you are no longer surprised that people like myself who are big into heavy metal are also big fans of yours. But could you comment on your initial feelings about being asked to produce Deliverance and later the Intense Live Series?
TERRY: I was bemused..... and honored.
On "AVOCADO FAULTLINE"....
CRITICALTOM: "John Wayne" was subtitled "Orange Grotesque part one." Was the "Avocado Faultline" the material originally conceived as part two? It certainly seems that way.
TERRY: I don't remember.
CRITICALTOM: Would you tell a little about your decision to record this album in Nashville and to share production duties with Phil Madeira?
TERRY: Phil seemed a natural choice considering the material and the way I wanted to approach it. He's a good friend and a sympathetic ear and an incredible talent. It all seemed to just fall in to place.
CRITICALTOM: While nothing you have written is less than fresh and interesting to me and others, many of the songs on this album-perhaps all of them-seem to be more of a surprise than any of your other albums. It really doesn't sound like any of your other albums. It is very "adult contemporary" like a James Taylor album, or some of Randy Stonehill's more serious moments. How did you approach the writing of this album?
TERRY: It's very much a "singer-songwriter" kind of album. I wanted to "tell stories", personal and otherwise, and I believed then that I had a few interesting ones to tell.
CRITICALTOM: Do you have a song that is your "favorite child" on this album?
TERRY: "Papa Danced on Olvera Street" is really the centerpiece of the record. It was written before the others and is the most personal song I have ever written. I wrote it before my Dad passed away, and at the moment of his death it "happened" to be playing on the stereo.
On "MR. BUECHNER'S DREAM"...
CRITICALTOM: Did you guys write this album in the studio, did you have it partially done when going in, or did you have it all together before recording? TERRY: Buechner was basically together before we went in, although I was still writing a few lyrics during the course of the recording sessions. The arrangements also changed to a degree
CRITICALTOM: Which if any of these songs were totally spontaneous?
TERRY: None of them.
CRITICALTOM: Which usually comes first, music or lyric? Do they inspire one another?
TERRY: I may have a title or a few lyrics in mind, but usually my songs start with a melody and some nonsense lyrics.
CRITICALTOM: What sort of in studio shenanigans contributed to the making of this record?
TERRY: It's all shenanigans.
CRITICALTOM: How has the response been to it? Are you happy?
TERRY: I'm happy that we took on a huge challenge as a band and met the challenge. Completing 33 songs isn't easy, especially when you've determined that nothing is going to be "filler." The critical response has been incredibly positive although sales, as expected, have been somewhat moderate.
CRITICALTOM: What do you think are the chances of more new albums coming out in the future?
TERRY: The Lord knows.
CRITICALTOM: Do you have a wealth of unreleased material that we can aggravate you about releasing?
CRITICALTOM: Will you be touring or playing C-Stone this year?
TERRY: Yes, I believe so.
On "REAL MEN CRY"...
CRITICALTOM: Was there ever any doubt about the Lost Dogs continuing on without Gene?
TERRY: I don't think there was ever a doubt, at least not in my mind. I knew Gene would want us to continue.
CRITICALTOM: Real Men Cry is a real triumph. I think it is the best Dogs album since Little Red Riding Hood. How has the response been to it and are you pleased about it?
TERRY: I'm pleased by whatever response we get. I'm just happy to be making records.
CRITICALTOM: Can we badger you into releasing the Green Room Serenades Vol. 2?
TERRY: Isn't that what you're doing already? [Gee . . . should I have asked a different way? -Criticaltom]
CRITICALTOM: Would you please give us a glimpse of what you are currently working on or have plans for?
TERRY: I'm working on several things. One of them is a compilation album for cystic fibrosis. The best thing for any fans to do is to go to the Daniel Amos website for updates on current projects.
CRITICALTOM: What is a question you've always wanted to be asked, but haven't been asked here?
TERRY: What's your favorite color?
CRITICALTOM: What is the answer to that question?
TERRY: Green. THE END.